After taking a long and warm shower I went upstairs to put on some clean clothes. I blow-dried my hair and put on my jacket and scarf. I headed downstairs, but I was stopped by a crowd of women. Students and staff occupied the small hall area, making a total of twenty-five people blocking the exit. They were talking loudly, the radio was on in full volume and people were running around frenetically. It looked like a henhouse.
I noticed Aunt Marge sitting on a wooden settee on a corner of the hall. She looked tired and fairly bored, contrasting the chaotic environment around her. I sat next to her and asked her what was going on.
“Haven’t you been listening to the news?” she said, changing her position to face me “There is going to be a snowstorm tonight apparently-”
“What?!” I said in bewilderment.
“I know, but you have nothing to worry about,” she soothed me. Have nothing to worry about!? I heard those natural disasters could be devastating, and just the thought of it made me quiver.
Aunt Marge must have noticed my discomfort and continued “Nobody will get hurt if we stay calm. You see, I have been working here longer than everybody else, and these things happen. The last snowstorm I can recall was about fifteen years ago, and nothing bad happened,” She looked at the chaos in the hall “They are all over reacting.”
“Shouldn’t you be telling them what to do? They look pretty lost.”
“Oh, they will get tired and eventually came to me,” she said, crossing her legs, shaking her head in disapproval.
“What should I do?” I asked her, feeling powerless and rather useless.
“Well, nobody, under no circumstance is going to leave this building, so I think you should go and find something to eat,” she said, “I am sure Mr Hansen will be taking the same measures in Hall B.”
“Considering that they are all men, that may take a while,” I rolled my eyes. Aunt Marge laughed out loud.
“Yes,” she added, “That is very true.”
Aunt Marge knew exactly what to do, but because her voice couldn’t be heard on top of everyone else’s, she couldn’t tell them the plan, so I had to be her voice.
I climbed onto the thick bannister of the stairs and put two fingers in my mouth. I whistled as loud as I could and immediately some faces turned towards me. I got some severe looks from staff members, but before they could yank me from my elevated spot, Aunt Marge got up and said exactly what she said to me, drawing all the attention to her.
“When is it safe to get out of the building?” A concerned staff asked.
“When the authorities say so. We need to be attentive to the radio; it will be through it that we will receive all the information and further instructions. Meanwhile, children, we need to stay together and help each other out,” she said. Her words were very calming, very reassuring.
“I think it’s best if the students sleep together in one of the community rooms. That way it’s easier for us to reach you if needed,” Aunt Marge added, directing her speech to the staff.
Aunt Marge gave me a look, which I understood entirely. Since I was the oldest, I should help the younger girls, but first I was given a task.
I hopped off of my pedestal and went on my quest of finding food. I wasn’t very confident that I would find any, but what else could I do?
I walked upstairs and the sound from the entrance hall started to became muffled. Finally, silence. But in silence, I had room to think, and my thoughts went straight to Harry. I hoped he was okay. God knew he had something attracting him to trouble, so I prayed he wouldn’t do anything stupid, not tonight.
Seriously?! A snowstorm in the outskirts of London? Fucking perfect.
The thing that was mostly bugging me was the fact that I was trapped inside Hall B and couldn’t get out, orders by Hansen. I had to admit, I was a bit anxious about what was happening, but let’s admit: a snowstorm can’t be that bad, can it?
Just then the power went out in the entire building. I was in my room all alone, and I reached under my bed to get my candle. I took out of my desk a matchbox and lit it up.
Great, I thought. My life couldn’t get any worse than that.
I was starting to get hungry, but food wasn’t a problem for me. I held a huge stack of crackers I stole from the canteen once. It was for when I didn’t feel like going to the canteen and face the intolerable snobs.
I decided to write her a letter. I used to write almost every day in the canteen to abstract myself from the world around me, but since Summer and I had become acquainted to each other, I haven’t thought about anything else.
I wanted to tell her about the fire and the library, the ice skating and our fights, but there was something stopping me. I wanted her to get me out of there, I wanted to leave that hell and she was the only one who could, so if I convinced her that my life was miserable, maybe she would feel sorry for me, and finally take me out. If I told her that I was “finally fitting in”, she would never let me leave.
I decided to tell her solely about the snowstorm. It broke my heart to do it, but I had to do it, I had to occult the truth.
My attempt of finding food was a failure. I searched under beds, inside wardrobes, lost inside a cupboard… I went to every room, but since the rooms had been cleared out for the Winter holidays, they were all vacant. There was nothing in Hall A that could feed us. Everyone was complaining about it, and if I could I would make food appear for everyone, but I couldn’t.
I helped the younger girls move some blankets downstairs to a community room and in less than nothing we were ready to sleep.
We were no more than fifteen in that improvised room. Some girls were on the sofas, while others were sleeping on the floor with some pillows, me being one of them. I had a radio beside my head. I had been listening to it the whole time before turning off the lights. Nothing new had been announced, only that the wind was getting stronger and stronger.
I had no idea how the girls managed to sleep due to the sound coming from outside, but they did after a while. I was wide awake and couldn’t even close my eyes for a second. I was too worried. I thought about everything that had happened that day. In the morning I poured my heart out when I said I was sorry to Harry, in the afternoon I went ice skating for the first time and now I was facing a snowstorm. What a day.
Someone knocked at the door. I slowly opened my eyes and sat up. Aunt Marge opened the door slightly and looked inside. She looked tired, exhausted even. I had a feeling she hadn’t slept the whole night, just like me.
“I have good news girls,” she said “The energy is back and it’s safe to go outside,”
The girls got up in a rush, ran to their respective rooms and got dress. I knew this was going to happen so I slept with my clothes on to avoid the chaos. I grabbed my overcoat and left the building.
People said that after every storm there is a rainbow, but there was no rainbow. The sky was deep grey, some trees had fallen down, and branches were everywhere. It looked like a battlefield. I looked at the buildings around me: they looked intact, at least, but I did notice some shattered windows.
I ran to the main building, although my desire was to go to Hall B. I knew they weren’t going to let me in, so I prayed Harry was already in the main building.
I opened the door and I was received by a crowd of guys. I was the first girl to arrive there apparently. I didn’t see Harry at first, so I ran to the canteen and stuffed in my mouth the first thing I saw, hunger taking over me. The scone was hard and dry, but I couldn’t care less.
“Summer, are you okay?” I heard the voice of the boy I was looking for. I turned around and shouted his name, completely forgetting my mouth was full of food. I choked and he laughed at my expense. Once I swallowed the food, I said I was okay.
“I can’t believe Christmas Eve is in a week,” I overheard the conversation between two boys as they walked inside the canteen.
“The snowstorm ended just in time,” the other said “It would be a pity if we couldn’t go to town on the twenty-fourth.”
Harry looked at me, who was listening to the conversation as well “Are you excited for Christmas?”
“I am more excited for my birthday, but yes.”
“Birthday? What birthday?” He looked confused. I thought I had mentioned it to him. Oh well.
“My birthday is tomorrow,” I said. The young girls had arrived that second, and I decided to join them. Harry just stared at me. I wonder what was going on inside his head.